PYD is excited to honor Keisha Greaves with the Oswald Mondejar Innovation Award for her dedication to creating solutions and advocating for youth with disabilities.
Keisha, a Cambridge, Massachusetts native and fashion enthusiast, founded Girls Chronically Rock (GCR) in 2017, and later GCR Adaptive Project, GCR Podcast, and Trust Your Abilities, after she was diagnosed with Limb-Girdle Muscular Dystrophy. The GCR clothing brand offers motivational shirts and merchandise for people with chronic illness. “I wanted to make something inspirational for people who may have a chronic illness like myself or may be battling anything in their life to let them know that they rock no matter what,” Keisha said.
“I’m so surprised that PYD wanted to honor me in the awards ceremony” Keisha added. “That lifted my spirits. The nomination made me feel awesome and motivated me to keep going.”
Keisha has been involved with PYD since meeting Executive Director Regina Snowden at a disability event at the Boston Innovation Center in 2018. “Ever since then, PYD has been stuck with me,” Keisha laughed. She has been a mentor, guest speaker at Career Readiness classes, and hosted the first virtual intern.
In Summer 2020, PYD placed an intern at Keisha’s nonprofit, Trust Your Abilities, and is in the process of providing Keisha with another intern. The intern helped with marketing, social media, blogs, inspirational posts, and explaining how Trust Your Abilities supports the disabled community. “PYD has been so, so supportive,” said Keisha. “Whenever Regina sees a business opportunity, she forwards me different emails and tries to connect me in the right direction. I feel like GCR and PYD is a force and a team.”
Keisha loves that PYD brings confidence to people with disabilities. “It reassures them that they can do anything,” she said. “Yes, we have a disability, and we may need certain accommodations, but we’re just like everybody else. We want our voices to be heard and we want to be seen.” She enjoys speaking with PYD participants and applauds PYD for providing them with support to achieve their goals.
Keisha’s current project involves working on an adaptive swimwear line for people with disabilities. “Some of us with disabilities go to aquatic therapy twice per week,” she said. “People don’t get that for us, just to take off a bathing suit, that’s a hassle. I wanted to create something that was more accessible and adaptive for us to feel comfortable and get dressed independently.” Keisha plans to launch the new product – for men and women – by July and hopes that the disabled community will help model her bathing suits.
Keisha continues to move forward and aim high. “My goal is to build a GCR empire,” she said. “I’m hoping to get GCR into New York Fashion Week, Los Angeles Fashion Week, and collaborate with designers that I look up to, like Tommy Hilfiger. I’m looking at GCR as a movement.” She also wants to continue her collaboration with PYD. “The future is endless,” she said.
For youth with disabilities who are interested in becoming entrepreneurs like Keisha, she encourages them to just do it. “Go with your dreams, go with your gut,” she said. “Go with your passion, whether it’s fashion, business, or cars, just go for it. Before you know it, you might have a unique idea that someone else doesn’t have.” Keisha also thinks that youth with disabilities will have an extra inspirational story behind their business, which will bring more awareness to that disability.
Be sure to hear more of Keisha’s story, other honorees, youth, parent and mentor perspective, and more at our virtual Party for PYD on Thursday, May 13 at 7 p.m. Register here.
This article was written by the BU PR Lab.